Source: Instagram / @darwinsbotanicals

Hello! Can we get to know you? How was Darwin's Botanicals born and how did its story progress?

Hello, I am a natural dyer and founder of the Darwin's Botanicals brand. I am also a doctoral candidate at Boğaziçi University Biomedical Engineering department.

In fact, the story of Darwin's began with a floristry adventure. As someone who lives in the city, I wanted to be close to nature and dreamed of doing a job in touch with nature, so I decided to study floristry. However, throughout the training, I felt closer to the greenery and flowers that were discarded because they had faded or did not look good in the design, rather than the flowers designed in all their splendor. After a while, this feeling took over me so much that I started to research how I could keep them alive, and thus I was introduced to natural dyeing, which is actually one of the almost forgotten crafts of Anatolian lands. Apart from plants and flowers, I can also obtain color from many food wastes; When I learned that I could upcycle these wastes by dyeing many natural materials, from fabric to paper, with these colors, I could never give up. In 2017, I decided to establish Darwin's and transform more waste and tell the story of this transformation to more people.

Source: Instagram / @darwinsbotanicals

Can we hear a little about Darwin's products from you? The qualities that make them different, the stages they have gone through since the beginning...

At Darwin's, we hand dye 100% natural fibers, one by one, with colors obtained entirely from nature, plants and food waste, without using any chemicals. Our biggest production principle is to get as much from nature as possible throughout the entire process. Whenever possible, we paint with the water we save from rain and, if the season is suitable, with the sun. The fact that this entire process is free of harsh chemicals ensures that when it comes time to say goodbye to our paint boilers that are tired of being used over and over again, and when these paints mix with groundwater, they do not harm the environment. In addition, natural fibers are completely biodegradable because they are dyed with the colors of nature. This is actually a point that is often overlooked. The general perception is that if a fiber is natural, it can easily mix with nature. However, fibers colored with dyes, especially those containing azo chemicals, cannot be dissolved in nature, even if they are 100% natural. Therefore, the dye of the fabric we buy is much more important than we think when making our consumption choices.

Of course, the rates of dyestuffs contained in plants and food waste also vary from season to season or depending on where and in what kind of soil that plant grows. This means that although we can develop our own formulas as much as we want, there are some variables that we cannot intervene in, which also means that our colors change. We cannot say that we have no control over the process, but this control can only go so far. However, frankly, this controlled and uncontrolled situation is something we really like and that leaves room for surprises. Thus, Darwin's creatures emerge, each full of unique differences, just like all living things in nature.

Source: Instagram / @darwinsbotanicals

Obtaining different colors from plants and fruits, creating your own special recipes... There is a tremendous amount of creativity and imagination involved. What are you inspired by?

When you work directly with nature itself, it becomes inevitable that nature is the source of inspiration. In fact, we draw inspiration from nature in terms of both our working principles and our design language. While painting, we try to adapt the cyclicality and lack of waste in nature to our own way of doing business. We work to obtain maximum benefit from every material we use, and when we have to say goodbye to it, we strive to do so with minimal waste.

When it comes to colors and designs, nature guides us in a completely different way. It is always fascinating that the natural can exist in its own world, in harmony with its surroundings, without standing out, without shouting "I'm here", while preserving its unique individuality and originality. A leaf that looks exactly the same as those around it becomes visible in all its individual beauty when we go closer to see it. And once you see it, you don't have the chance to forget it, you are literally caught up in its magic. This feeling of being both in harmony with the surroundings and completely different from those around it in details is reflected in every aspect of Darwin's, from its colors to its designs.

Source: Instagram / @darwinsbotanicals

Why do you think natural dyeing is less preferred compared to chemical dyeing?

The main reason for this is the same reason that natural dyes were replaced by synthetic dyes after the 18th century. The availability of chemical dyes is much higher, and therefore their costs are much lower; it is much faster to produce large volumes with them; It is much easier to achieve the standard in colors. However, the essential basic production principle in natural dyes is patience. Unless you are patient, it is almost impossible to obtain the right colors from plants and combine these colors with the fiber correctly. When it comes to all this, natural dyes are not preferred, especially by fast fashion brands. However, the cost to our planet of choosing chemical dyes is also very high. The textile industry uses 8,000 different synthetic chemicals throughout the year to dye fabrics sold globally. According to World Bank data, 20% of industrial pollution occurs during fabric dyeing, 90% of groundwater in China alone is polluted and 72 of the toxic chemicals in this water belong to fabric dyeing.

Source: Instagram / @darwinsbotanicals

We love your hashtag #someone'sgarbagesomeone'streasure! Can you elaborate a little on this beautiful expression?

In fact, this hashtag came into our lives as an expression of the cycle of nature that we try to adapt to our way of doing business. There is no concept of waste in nature, waste is a problem related to people and their lives. Simply put, in nature, a leaf that fades, rots and falls, mixes with the soil and becomes food. We tried to approach this huge waste problem in city life from this perspective. Instead of leaving organic plant or food waste to rot, we wanted to give them a new role and a longer life, albeit in a different form. We called this process some people's trash, some people's treasure. Although this hashtag currently seems to represent only the dyeing process, our dream is that it will also include many different upcycling projects in the future.

What do you think we should pay attention to in order to be a conscious consumer on the road to a more waste-free and more sustainable world?

Nature is a system that can renew itself and replace what we take from it. However, in our case, the problem stems from the fact that the rate at which we consume nature through consumption frenzy has already exceeded the rate at which it renews itself. This means that we consume the resources that will meet the needs of future generations. Therefore, in our opinion, the best step that can be taken on this path is to consume to a minimum and support upcycling whenever possible. Thus, instead of producing something from scratch, allowing the already produced ones to be evaluated by gaining a new function.

Thank you very much!